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Emanuel Reaching Out To Chicago Clergy

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Rahm Emanuel meets with Chicago clergy

Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel sat down with several Chiago ministers on March 9, 2011, at a McKinley Park café to discuss ideas for various issues facing the city. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel was back in the neighborhoods on Wednesday, vowing to keep the promises he made during his campaign.

Emanuel met with representatives of faith-based organizations at a McKinley Park café and came away with what he’s calling new ideas and renewed hope.

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that there seemed to be a good deal of optimism on both sides.

Several pastors said they were hopeful that Emanuel will put his money where his mouth is once he takes office.

“It is our hope that what he has shared today will actually take place, but he challenged us to be partners in this,” Rev. Tyrone Crider said. “So it’s not just on Mayor Emanuel, it’s on all of us.”

Crider is a longtime, well-respected community activist and just one of the church leaders seated around the table, as Emanuel promised not lose touch with the people who’d helped elect him.

Emanuel said his goal is to figure out “How do we make sure this is a not a periodic communication but a permanent one.”

What he found was a group willing to listen; encouraged, but also wary as to whether he would act on suggestions such as re-establishing a board of clergy members to help deal with public safety issues.

“He’s interested in listening to it and getting involved with that. But as far as saying what is gonna happen, I don’t know as yet,” Rev. Leonard DeVille said.

Emanuel noted that former Chicago Police Supt. Fred Rice established a similar board under the late Mayor Harold Washington.

“Superintendent Rice had established it, Los Angeles is doing it today, so I said that’s something I want to look into,” Emanuel said.

Dr. Joann Long said she believed Emanuel’s discussion with them was “not just words.”

“I did hear in him such an open-mindedness and a desire to truly connect and sustain that connection,” she said.

The meeting follows a pattern established right after the election, reaching out to both friends and foes, from the firefighters union who’d endorsed a rival, to longtime City Council powerhouse, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), who endorsed Emanuel rival Gery Chico.

“We don’t want a rubber stamp City Council. We don’t want Council War. I want a council that will be part of the reform agenda and I want be a partner in that effort,” Emanuel said.

The irony is that the continuing effort to connect with others comes on the same day a Washington Post article talked about Emanuel’s successor in Washington, Bill Daley, having to spend all his time doing damage control.

Citing two unnamed Obama administration officials, the Washington Post reported that Cabinet secretaries complained that the only calls that came from Emanuel were to complain when things went wrong, rather than connect.

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